How to Structure Leadership Development to Build a Process to Survive at Scale
Businesses, like children, go through many stages of development. In the beginning, the business is just learning its own identity. Daily life is an exercise in “figuring it out”, and there’s a certain threshold for mistakes, experimentation, and ambiguity.
As the business grows and matures, that threshold grows smaller. Soon, the child becomes a family—with major responsibilities. Before we know it, the margin for error has grown paper-thin and time is always at a deficit. If we hope to keep moving in the right direction, we need to get better at getting bigger.
Scaling a business is challenging, and fraught with risk (and great rewards!). It requires time, financial investment, people management, and patience. Yet, it’s possible. One key component is to start early on implementing your leadership development approach to support your organization’s ongoing growth. In other words, don’t wait.
Establish Your Leadership Culture
Your corporate culture and core values dictate the behavioral cues for your future leaders. Your team should first encounter the culture and values of your organization within their interviews and during the first week of employment. I like to call this the “purpose trifecta”, ensuring mission, vision, values are strongly communicated and “felt”.
When everyone within the business understands who they are and what they represent, a criteria for evaluating leadership effectiveness becomes fairly simple. Is that person upholding that culture, and those core values, or are they not? This question applies to both existing leaders and up-and-coming talent.
At the executive level, we must also own our responsibility to exemplify a culture of ongoing learning. Leadership development is never done. It combines on the job experiences, experiential learning (such as case studies and role plays), offering and receiving mentorship, and self-directed learning throughout our careers.
Investing in executive coaching can introduce you to development tools that can be transformative—not just to your skill set as a leader, but to the culture of development in your organization.
Create Development Programs with Scaling in Mind
Poor, inconsistent leadership development has the potential to create rifts in productivity and organizational dynamics. Up-and-coming leaders must understand the scope, processes, and resources that will be pertinent to their new titles. Yet, it’s shocking how common it is for companies to overlook their development processes for new leaders.
Development programs or efforts should be purposefully created with the assumption that they will be delivered multiple times, in more than one location. Interactive digital modules, self-lead projects, downloadable handbooks, and webinars are examples of program components that are easy to deliver and modify at scale.
These experiences should help the up-and-comer start internalizing the skills they need for advancement. Complement these materials with the mentorship of a senior individual who can help the up-and-comer succeed in their new role.
Developing all these resources in-house can be a lengthy process. At East Tenth Group, we specialize in offering leadership development programs like these for leaders at every stage of their career. From emerging leaders entering a new role, to increasing the effectiveness of experienced leaders, our intensive programs are a great place to start.
Designate Development Champions
As leaders, we should hope that many of the people we chose to hire have some degree of leadership potential. There’s no reason to wait to start developing their skills, even if we don’t yet have a leadership position for them to fill.
Empower leaders to create champions within their teams who can “own” a key area of their department. For example, if a team member has outpaced others within their department on a newly implemented piece of software, the leader should encourage the department to see them as a training resource.
With this arrangement, everyone on the team benefits. The leader gains time, the team gains a peer resource, and the champion gains an opportunity to advance their leadership skills.
Are you choosing new leaders that others will follow? Download our free leadership development resource, Emotional Intelligence and Smart Leadership, to learn why emotional intelligence is a critical indicator of success.
Rollout Development Programs Proactively
Introducing scalable leadership development programs is easier said than done. There are several moving pieces involved in changing how your business develops talent.
Who will be responsible for development benchmarks? Who will manage the logistics of development programs, events, and technology? Who will ensure the quality and consistency of the programs?
These roles will need to be defined, as will their own standards of operation. The people occupying these roles must then work together to stage the rollout of development programs in a way that maximizes time, resources, and effectiveness.
Lean on Technology to Improve Efficiency
Busywork is a serious threat to a leader’s efficiency. The goal of a leader is to focus as much as possible on endeavors that improve the performance of our teams. It should be our priority to delegate and automate whatever gets in the way of that goal.
Take a look into all the repetitive tasks that can be automated with the help of new technology. It may prove unbelievable how much time you can save.
I recognize there’s a lot to take in here, and we’ve barely scratched the surface. My team has spent years helping growth enterprises and middle-market businesses with leadership development in NYC. We’ve learned what works, and what doesn’t.
While growth is a wonderful thing, a scaling business cannot afford to neglect their development processes. If you’re ready to make leadership development a priority for your organization, I encourage you to contact my team and I at East Tenth Group today.